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As resignation calls multiply, Franken plans announcement

Sen. Al Franken is seen in this 2013 file photo at Moorhead High School in Moorhead, Minn. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Al Franken's office says he will make an announcement on Thursday, Dec. 7, a day after women colleagues called for him to resign.

While speculation was that the Minnesota Democrat would resign as allegations of sexual misconduct piled up, his office gave no indication about what his announcement would be or where it would come.

Franken apparently has not been in Minnesota since allegations began a week before Thanksgiving. Several women say he inappropriately touched them during USO tours, at the Minnesota State Fair and in a radio studio.

The latest report of sexual misconduct came in a Politico story Wednesday. A woman, not named by the news organization, said Franken tried to kiss her after her boss finished appearing on Franken's radio show in 2006.

"It's my right as an entertainer," she told Politico that he said.

Franken released a statement denying the incident. "This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous. I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing Ethics Committee investigation."

After the Politico story hit, six Democratic senators called for Franken to quit: Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Patty Murray of Washington, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Kamala Harris of California and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

Separately, North Dakota's Democratic senator joined the call.

"We must commit to zero tolerance," Sen. Heidi Heitkamp wrote on Twitter, "which is where I believe we as a country and Congress should be — and that means Senator Franken should step down."

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., did not join the other senators in demanding Franken resign. Instead, her office released a statement: "Sen. Klobuchar personally spoke with Sen. Franken this morning. As has been reported, he will be making an announcement tomorrow morning."

While some House members asked Franken to resign, the women who talked on Wednesday were the first Senate Democrats to specifically call for him to leave Congress.

In Minnesota, Democratic governor candidates State Auditor Rebecca Otto and state Rep. Erin Murphy have said he should leave.

Most Minnesota Democratic leaders have not sought his resignation, although before he was accused the state party said it would refuse to fund candidates who do not take sex harrassment prevention training. Their staffs also would be required to take the training.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, who served on the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee during his single term in Congress, said that panel is the proper place to decide Franken's fate. He did not immediately react to the Wednesday allegations.

A Los Angeles radio host brought the first public complaint against Franken, saying he forced a kiss on her during a 2006 USO tour the two were on. She also posted a photo of him with his hand hovering over her breasts as she slept on a military airplane.

The tour came three years before Franken took office, but he was getting ready to run in 2006.

After the first report, there were allegations that Franken grabbed women's buttocks as he took photos with them.

If Franken resigns, Dayton would appoint someone to fill the seat. Then that seat, as well as the one Klobuchar holds, would be on the November 2018 ballot.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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